Sunday, September 25, 2016

SPEDtacular Sunday Freebies!!!


School is back in full swing for everyone, so what better time to grab some freebies to ease your lesson planning! Every Sunday I host this freebie link up here on my blog! Visit each week to download free resources for your classroom! If this is your first time visiting, you can access the previous link ups by clicking on "SPEDtacular Sunday Freebies" under "My Files" on my right sidebar. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

If you're a TPT seller, blogger, or resource creator, I hope you'll link up and share your own freebie with us! 


Link Up Rules

1. All resources must be FREE! It can be free for the day, but please delete your link once you mark it back to paid.
2. Your freebie may link to your blog or store.
3. Freebie does not have to be related specifically to SPED, but should be practical for SPED.
4. If you are linking up from your blog, using this image in your post and linking back to my blog is not required, but is greatly appreciated! Also, feel free to share this image on your social media so your other SPED friends don't miss out! :)

*I recommend using an image of your freebie & not your button when linking up. 

Link up your free resources below and/or download the free resources you can use in your classroom! The link up tool will close on Saturday each week, but most freebies will remain accessible! Come back every Sunday to link up or download new freebies!

Have a Great Week!!!


Sunday, September 18, 2016

SPEDtacular Sunday Freebies!!!


Happy to see you back for some more SPEDtacular Freebies!!! Every Sunday I host this freebie link up here on my blog! Visit each week to download free resources for your classroom! If this is your first time visiting, you can access the previous link ups by clicking on "SPEDtacular Sunday Freebies" under "My Files" on my right sidebar. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

If you're a TPT seller, blogger, or resource creator, I hope you'll link up and share your own freebie with us! 


Link Up Rules

1. All resources must be FREE! It can be free for the day, but please delete your link once you mark it back to paid.
2. Your freebie may link to your blog or store.
3. Freebie does not have to be related specifically to SPED, but should be practical for SPED.
4. If you are linking up from your blog, using this image in your post and linking back to my blog is not required, but is greatly appreciated! Also, feel free to share this image on your social media so your other SPED friends don't miss out! :)

*I recommend using an image of your freebie & not your button when linking up. 

Link up your free resources below and/or download the free resources you can use in your classroom! The link up tool will close on Saturday each week, but most freebies will remain accessible! Come back every Sunday to link up or download new freebies!

Hope you're having a great year so far!!!




Wednesday, September 14, 2016

My ADHD Story & What You Can Do!





Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, known as ADHD is a behavioral condition that affects nearly 11% of our student population. These children are typically very impulsive, hyper, and struggle to pay attention and remain on task. 

You may say, "Well that's me." Many of us have difficulties paying attention when something doesn't interest us, or sometimes we may feel hyper. I do! But children with ADHD struggle so much with these behaviors that it often takes over and affects every aspect of their life; home, school, and their social life.

I am a mother of an ADHD child. When he was diagnosed, I was devastated! He was in first grade at the time and is now 19. :) No one wants their child to have a disability. I remember going around and talking to his previous teachers from Pre-K and Kinder, trying to do everything I could to rule it out. But the truth of the matter was....that he did have ADHD!



The only difference in ADHD and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is that children with ADD do not exhibit the hyper-activity. Even though I mostly refer to ADHD in this post, all of it relates to both.


As mentioned above, these children are typically impulsive, hyper, and have a hard time staying on task. Here are some specific behaviors that I have witnessed with my son and the children I have taught with an ADHD diagnosis.

Can't stay in seat
Fidgety
Cannot complete an activity in one session
Dislikes writing 
Writing is not legible
Written assignments cause chaos
Struggles to follow directions
Does not listen well
Very unorganized/loses things
Doesn't form strong friendships
Forgetful
Makes noises all the time
Impulsive- my son once pulled the fire alarm at the public library. :-(



Children need to visit their family pediatrician. The parent will receive two questionnaires; one for them and one for the teacher to complete. These are then rated by the doctor and determines if there is a diagnosis of ADHD/ADD. If you're a teacher and have a student that exhibits some of these symptoms, express your concerns to your school psychologist. 

And now, if you're a parent, you immediately freak out because medication will be suggested and pushed immediately. No parent wants to put their child on "narcotics." It's very scary! I looked for other alternatives and found ADHD diets, but as picky as my son was, we were not successful. The message I gained from most of the diets I tried with my son and read about, is simply EAT FRESH! NO Preservatives! The thing is, all my son would eat is hotdogs, frozen chicken nuggets, bologna...I couldn't get him to eat anything Fresh!

Eventually after constant calls from his teacher, notifications from the principal, and the dreadful chaos that homework caused every evening, I couldn't take the stress any longer and I decided to place him on medication. It took trying 3 different types of medication to finally find one that worked for my son. He was on Adderall, Stratera, and then Focalin, which is the one that actually worked for him! 

The academic results were amazing!!! It was like night and day! The phone calls stopped coming from school, he did his work, the noise making stopped, and you could actually read his handwriting!

However, the physical results and side effects scared me as a parent! He couldn't sleep at night, he rarely had an appetite, he was losing weight, and he wasn't himself. He wasn't a zombie like many kids I've seen, but he just wasn't himself. He didn't joke and laugh. He was quiet all the time. He kept to himself. 

Then, one day I got a phone call from the school that my son was in the health office with a heart rate of 220 and that 911 had been called. By the time I arrived the ambulance was pulling away with my son. I'm tearing up as writing this as it was the scariest day of my life!!! There's nothing more frightening than following an ambulance that your child is in! It was diagnosed as a cardiac arrhythmia and he had heart surgery a week later. The medication was never ruled out as a contributing factor. I never gave my son another pill after that day! 

And the phone calls starting coming again, as well as the stress and frustration! Now that I worked in his district, they would call me in my classroom while I was working! The next year I pulled him from school, began homeschooling, and the rest is history! I only feel that if he would have had more patient teachers and teachers more experienced with ADHD, teachers that thought out of the box, he could have been successful without being medicated!

I get it when the parents of my students don't want to put their child on narcotics! I get it! I've been there. And I also don't like seeing students acting like zombies and being medicated to make my job easier! Here are some classroom strategies that should be used with ADHD children and especially those that may not be medicated.



These students struggle every day of their life to stay focused, to complete tasks, to follow directions. Most of them really want to please you, but they have a hard time doing it. We as classroom teachers cannot expect them to sit in their seat perfectly all morning like our other students and then send them to the office when they cannot. And please do not take their recess from them ever!!! These are hyper-active children, why would you take their movement time from them?? You're just asking for it! This one always set wrong with me! And face it, it doesn't make sense! 

1) Be patient
2) DO NOT take recess
3) Allow frequent breaks
4) Allow them to stand up and work or provide flexible seating.
5) Allow them a fidget toy
6) Don't overwhelm them with written assignments.
7) Allow them to verbally answer written responses if they are frustrated with writing. 
8) Chunk and shorten assignments. If a paper has 10 questions. Cut it in half and allow them to complete 5. Maybe they can only complete 2. 
9) Recognize when your student is feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, and allow them some downtime. 
10) Give them a "break" card they can hold up if needed.
11) Provide work on "their" level; work they can actually do!
12) Don't stress if this student is completing less work or getting breaks every 30 minutes! It's okay! They appreciate it and in the long run it will make your job much easier than a medicated kid and it will allow this student to feel some success!
13) Provide them with clear expectations!
14) Provide them with photo copies of assignments that must be written down each day!
15) Assign a peer buddy to help them write down homework assignments each day.  
16) Set up an organization system for them. Color code.
17) Stay away from written assignments and worksheets as much as possible. Allow them to show their knowledge in other ways with hands-on and engaging tasks. 
18) Work with the parents on homework by allowing them to modify if needed to avoid chaos in their home each night.
19) These children are generally very creative because their little minds never stop going! Allow them opportunities to showcase their creative strengths.
20) Don't label them as just another misbehaved "Johnny," help them learn by providing the accommodations listed here.
21) Don't send them to the office! They are used to be reprimanded for their struggles and once you send them to the office you not only show them you don't care about their learning difficulties, but you give up your control to the office staff, because you obviously didn't have any control. 
22) LOVE them! They are not just misbehaved kids! Their struggle is real and they need your help!! 
23) Last! If your student asks to go to the health office because they feel like their heart is racing and beating really fast, LET THEM GO!

My son still has ADHD, but he has learned to control it with maturity and he has grown into a very successful business entrepreneur. At the age of 19, he has two businesses. He buys, sells, and trades coins in his Ebay store. And he does beautiful woodworking and sells his creations on his woodworking website. 

Having ADHD is not the end of the world. These are beautiful children that struggle to please and achieve, and need assistance to be successful. Help them to be successful and let them showcase their talents! They are amazing!!!   



Sunday, September 11, 2016

SPEDtacular Sunday Freebies!!!



This week really flew by and it's already time for some more SPEDtacular Freebies!!! Every Sunday I host this freebie link up here on my blog! Visit each week to download free resources for your classroom! If this is your first time visiting, you can access the previous link ups by clicking on "SPEDtacular Sunday Freebies" under "My Files" on my right sidebar. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

If you're a TPT seller, blogger, or resource creator, I hope you'll link up and share your own freebie with us! 

Link Up Rules

1. All resources must be FREE! It can be free for the day, but please delete your link once you mark it back to paid.
2. Your freebie may link to your blog or store.
3. Freebie does not have to be related specifically to SPED, but should be practical for SPED.
4. If you are linking up from your blog, using this image in your post and linking back to my blog is not required, but is greatly appreciated! Also, feel free to share this image on your social media so your other SPED friends don't miss out! :)

*I recommend using an image of your freebie & not your button when linking up. 

Link up your free resources below and/or download the free resources you can use in your classroom! The link up tool will close on Saturday each week, but most freebies will remain accessible! Come back every Sunday to link up or download new freebies!



Monday, September 5, 2016

Why Don't I Get Invited to Birthday Parties??

"Why don't I get invited to birthday parties," one of my students asked! This just breaks my heart and makes me so sad, but this is reality for most of our special needs children. Let's face it, most of them don't have "friends." Not solid friendships anyway, or friends that really want to spend time with them. It may appear to others on the outside that they are well-liked and have friends on the playground and at school, but on the inside, that is not usually the case! 

A good friend of mine has a 12 year-old child with Down Syndrome and she will agree with me 100%. She recently posted this on Facebook and gave me permission to share it in this post. She writes, "Everyone loves him. From the outside looking in, it appears as though he has quality friendships. As a parent though, I know that in almost 13 years, he has been invited to exactly 2 birthday parties outside of family. One was a school wide party and the other one was in first grade." The day she posted this was a very proud moment for this mama, because guess what? He got invited to a birthday party by someone on the football team that he is a part of....{wiping tears}. Can you imagine the excitement this child felt to feel like he was a valued member of his team? It was probably one of the best days of his life! 

Most people don't realize how something so simple as a birthday party invite can mean the world to a child! These children should not have to miss out on these magical childhood moments! Even at my age, some of my most memorable moments of my childhood were made at my birthday parties! 

As a teacher of mild/moderate to severe special needs students, and a teacher in a low-income area, not only do my students not receive invites to parties, they rarely get to have their own birthday party! 

So over the summer, and before I ever even read my friends post about her son, I decided that this year, as part of our life skills/social skills curriculum I am going to host a birthday party for ALL of my students in my classroom! For those that have birthdays during the summer months I will host their party either at the beginning of the year or end of their year, depending where their birthday falls.

I want to make it as fun and genuine as possible for them! Sure, I always brought in cupcakes on my students' birthdays and gave them a little surprise bag. But that's not a birthday party! I want them to be able to make their own invitations and pass them out, as my "own" children did. I want them to have party games, eat cake and ice cream, and open gifts! I want them to have a "real" birthday party and I want my other students to be able to attend a "real" birthday party!

I know throwing a birthday party can be expensive and some times parents are not able to financially help out. So this summer, I created this Classroom Birthday Party Pack to help me organize these birthday parties and to make it super easy on a low budget! 

I made invitations that they can color, decorate, and pass out. I am going to let them invite 3 other individuals on campus in addition to their classmates. It can be a friend from the playground, custodian, another teacher they love, or who ever they choose! It's THEIR day!


These are easy to print and fold, and on the inside they can fill in their name, date, time, and the place of their party (which will be our classroom). 




I made a parent letter that I plan to send home 2-3 weeks prior to the birthday party. The letter encourages parent involvement, but does not obligate or pressure them. This was important for me, as I know that many of my parents are single parents, do not work, do not have transportation, and cannot assist or participate. I want them to still feel welcome to attend the party!

 I made a boy and girl version, and both in color and B & W.



To make party activities simple and save money, one activity children will get to do during the party is make a birthday hat. 



 This costs me no money and they can choose from 2 options!



Each child will also get to make a birthday bracelet.

In addition to playing games, I'll also give the birthday girl/boy a birthday certificate! My students LOVE getting certificates!
Also in B & W.

I plan to play musical chairs as my students' love this game, pin the tail on the donkey (which can be bought once  for $1 and reused), and I'm thinking about possibly a pinata. If the parents are not able to bring in anything, my aides and I are going to pitch in to get a cake, ice cream, and drinks. I'm so lucky to have such wonderful aides that love our students as their own!

My aides and I are also going to all bring in a wrapped gift. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. It could even be from Dollar Tree. My Treasure Tree typically consists of nothing but Dollar Tree goodies and my students LOVE this stuff! 

I also made a birthday wish list that I am going to complete with my students on the same day they make their invitations. I will send a copy of this home to their parents as well.
 Lastly, I made a shopping/to do list for me!
 I'm super excited about this, and so are my students and parents! When I told the parents about it at Open House they were all just as excited as me! I am so thrilled to be able to provide this experience to my students and can't wait to share these moments with you! Our first party is September 23rd!

I'd love to see other special education classrooms around the world providing this experience for their students too, so I've compiled all of these resources into a "Classroom Birthday Party Pack!"

 
What's a childhood without birthday parties and what's a birthday party without friends, right!?!

Party On,